Analysis comes as fatality rates drop sharply nationwide
Up to 45% of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Florida may have been wrongly classified, according to a researcher who has analyzed a report by the state House of Representatives.
Dr. Andrew Bostom noted the lawmakers found that nearly 60% — 8,058 of 13,920 deaths — classified by the Department of Health as due to COVID-19 had “errors” or were “recorded in a manner inconsistent with state and national guidance.”
The Florida legislators further concluded that about 10% were completely misclassified as COVID deaths. But Bostom offered evidence to support his claim that 10% is far too conservative.
He pointed out that the conclusion reflects compliance with the Centers for Disease Control’s April 2020 COVID-19 death certificate coding guidelines, which, he said, “destroyed the logical firewall” between “specific cause” of death and “contribution(s)” to individual deaths.
In addition to the 1,256 records discovered by lawmakers that did not even list COVID-19 as the final cause of death, several other categories could be added, maintains Bostom, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University.
Among them were 3,451 that classified COVID alone, as both the immediate and underlying cause of death, despite acknowledging contributing co-morbidities or conditions.
“This aggregate mortality total indicates, plausibly, that up to 45% (6,227/13,920) of Florida’s death certificate recorded ‘Covid-19 deaths’ may not merit that classification,” Bostom wrote.
A cover memo introducing the Florida House report written by Speaker José R. Oliva warned that “national guidelines drive the [COVID-19 death] count up.”
“CDC has determined that the death count should include persons with COVID even if COVID is not an underlying cause of death,” he wrote.
“I believe that these two categories are fundamentally different. They should both be noted, but not combined,” Oliva said.
Bostom commented that all “honest public health, and healthcare professionals, as well as local, state, and national political leaders, should agree with—and abide—Speaker Oliva’s wise, plainspoken observations.”